2018-133: Improving lipid content in vegetative tissue to increase the nutritive value of herbaceous legume forages
Researcher: Surya Acharya
While alfalfa is an important feed source for many producers throughout the province, it is not a good source for fat or lipids, and bloat is commonly a risk. This research will use a technique to alter the genes of the alfalfa and sainfoin plant to increase the oil content, and to increase protein digestibility. It might also reduce the cost of adding oils to a ration, which also decreasing the amount of methane from cattle.
The researchers have found that they can increase the fat, or lipid content in alfalfa and sainfoin, and they will be continuing this research in the next three years to select for even higher rates of fat content.
Using a chemical mutagenesis, Drs. Acharya, Singer, and Chen altered the fat content, and have now entered their third cycle of selection in alfalfa and sainfoin populations. They found that the level of fat/lipids has increased by 20% in alfalfa and 80% in alfalfa. Their ultimate goal is to increase the lipids in these plants to 5%.
The next steps are already underway. More information on that project can be found here: https://www.beefresearch.ca/factsheet.cfm/enhancement-of-total-lipid-contentcomposition-in-non-gmo-alfalfa-and-sainfoin-for-improved-energy-density-and-reduced-methane-emissions-282